February 13, 2010
(Now for a more objective view of the 2010 LA Street Food Fest.)
Like I said in my prior post, I already considered the day a success after getting my LFC and figured everything else would be icing on the cake. In this case, the icing was deliciously sweet because I had a complete and utter BLAST at this event!
The best way to get around food festivals such as this one is to use the tactic my friends like to call “divide and conquer”: Get a group of people, everyone take a different truck, order 2-3x more than you normally would, then meet back at a specific location and divvy up the goods. Yes, you’ll still get stuck in a line but it’s only one 2-hour line rather than four 2-hour lines and you get at least twice the amount of food.
Based on our “divide and conquer” technique, I was able to taste the following trucks and try their respective goodies:
– Frysmith: kimchi fries, rajas fries, foie gras fries, chili cheese fries
– Dogzilla: karai furikake dog, yakisoba dog, dogzilla dog
– Qzilla: smoked brisket, pulled pork, ribs, Texas toast, smack and cheese
– Mama Koh’s Chicken: chicken wings
– Fishlips: tuna, eel, shrimp, yellowtail
– Buttermilk: red velvet chocolate chip pancake bites.
– Coolhaus: chocolate chip cookie, brown butter candied bacon ice cream
– Del’s Lemonade: frozen lemonade
As you can see, “divide and conquer” works pretty well (to say the least).
Although I had a great time and filled myself up on truck food, I knew pretty early on (i.e. immediately after I got my order of LFC and watched the line grow exponentially in the next 5 minutes) that there was going to be some kind of backlash on “teh internetz” about this event. With the amount of people pouring through the gate, the lines were bound to be long and most people, like me, hate waiting in lines. I also knew that quite a number of people would probably be unaccustomed to food festivals and expect to stroll in at 3PM and get food immediately (which is obviously NOT the case).
Huge crowds + long lines = disgruntled people who will complain.
I knew it was going to get even uglier when I caught news that they were closing down the general admission line due to overcapacity inside. (As someone who was on the inside, I can vouch – it was crowded already.) The next news to hit was that there were delays in the trucks because of health inspections. Both would affect the public’s view of the event and, again, would cause people to complain. (I can already see negativity bubbling in the comments on other people’s blogs and on Yelp.)
Here’s the way I see it:
Yes, it sucks that people had to wait outside for hours and still weren’t allowed in.
Yes, it sucks that people had to wait inside for hours and didn’t get very much food.
I’m not going to lie – it totally sucks.
But think about it from another perspective: This is the first food festival in LA of this size. Name another festival that comes close to reaching the number of people in attendance at the Food Fest today – What, the Tofu festival? BBQ festival? KBBQ festival? I would argue that the LA Street Food Fest is a first for this city. Considering this is its first year, that the turnout was 50-100% larger than anticipated, and given the hiccups caused by the fire marshal and the health inspector and whomever else, I would say the LA Street Food Fest did pretty damn well for itself.
Nothing works perfectly the first time around; it’s only with time and hard lessons that things get better. And I honestly believe that the next time around (and there will be another time around), the event will be bigger and better. I mean, if, in its first year, the LA Street Food Fest has already converted me into a food festival supporter (which is a big deal in and of itself), who knows what else it is capable of?